Greece restricting visits from Russian priests
August 6, 2018. A priest of the Russian Orthodox Church has reported that he faced discrimination on a professional basis at the Greek embassy in Moscow, reports Russian Athens.
The publicist, journalist, and cleric Fr. Vladimir Vigilyansky posted a letter to the Greek ambassador in Moscow on his personal Facebook page explaining the situation.
According to the priest, he faced discrimination at the Greek embassy for being a priest of the Russian Church, being denied a multiple-entry 3-year Schengen Visa. He was only able to receive entry documents for one month, though he writes that he has received long-term Schengen Visas multiple times before from various consulates. He learned in the visa center that the Greek government prefers not to give longer visas to priests, although, had he applied as a retiree or a member of the Union of Journalists or just as an author, there would have been no problem.
Fr. Vladimir later spoke with other priests who had encountered the same problem.
This is a recent diplomatic development, following the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Greece. No official reason for the expulsions was given, though media reports indicate that it was due to supposed Russian intervention in Greek internal affairs, including working for the return of Russian Church property illegally confiscated by the Greek state after the collapse of the Russian Empire.
Greek Ambassador to Russia Andreas Fryganas has not yet responded to Fr. Vladimir’s letter.